The European Commission unveiled 'Opening up education', an action plan to tackle digital problems which are hampering schools and universities from delivering high quality education and the digital skills which 90 percent of jobs will require by 2020. To help kick-off the initiative, the EC launched a new website, Open Education Europa, which will allow students, practitioners and educational institutions to share free-to-use open educational resources.
Between 50 percent and 80 percent of students in EU countries never use digital textbooks, exercise software, broadcasts/podcasts, simulations or learning games, the EC said. Most teachers at primary and secondary level do not consider themselves as 'digitally confident' or able to teach digital skills effectively, and 70 percent would like more training in using ICTs. Pupils in Latvia, Lithuania and the Czech Republic are the most likely to have internet access at school (more than 90 percent), twice as much as in Greece and Croatia (around 45 percent).
A joint initiative led by Androulla Vassiliou, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, and Neelie Kroes, Commission Vice-President, responsible for the Digital Agenda, Opening up Education focuses on three main areas, namely creating opportunities for organisations, teachers and learners to innovate; increased use of Open Educational Resources (OER), ensuring that educational materials produced with public funding are available to all; and better ICT infrastructure and connectivity in schools.
Initiatives linked to Opening up Education will be funded with support from Erasmus+, the new EU programme for education, training, youth and sport, and Horizon 2020, the new research and innovation programme, as well as the EU structural funds. For example, Erasmus+ will offer funding to education providers to ensure business models are adapted to technological change and to support teachers’ development through open online courses. All educational materials supported by Erasmus+ will be freely available to the public under open licences.
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